I really can't tell you how we came together on this. It's kind of a blur. I remember pleading in prayer--bargaining, really--that if we ran the group home for two years that the Lord had to PROMISE that Bryce's career wouldn't suffer for it. I also had a side deal with Him that He would lead us to add another permanent child to our family, maybe a girl? I'd started fertility treatments and really wanted another baby one way or another. I knew it was crazy to make demands but it was my desperate attempt to grasp a semblance of stability when the ground was shifting beneath our feet.
I also had the burning feeling that we were on the right track. And I know Bryce must have done the same thing, because before we knew it, we were employed by Casa--as full-time house managers in a long-term group foster home.
If people thought we were crazy they hid it well. Or we were too wrapped up in our impending move and life change to notice.
I quit my job. Bryce took the Bar and passed it. We moved into the very home where we'd volunteered not long ago--that big, beautiful home with a thousand memories.
Looking back, I can't imagine what was running through Tyce's 3-year-old mind.
Here's how I envisioned that first day going: taking the first day to move in, the second to settle in, and the third to welcome our new brood of children into an organized, lovely home.
I'll let you in on a secret: It didn't happen like that.
Our moving van pulled up and little children poured from the house. One of the houseparents told us she'd stay until 6 to help with dinner and keep the kids occupied. My eyes grew wide with alarm as I realized that there was no downtime here. I wasn't welcoming children to my house; they were cautiously allowing ME--us--to step foot in their domain.
As soon as we piled boxes in the living room, kids climbed them. They jumped on our furniture and rifled through my purse.
I looked at Bryce with sheer panic and said, "We've made a mistake. I can't do this. We need to go back."
"We've made a commitment, Rebecca, for two years," he reminded me. "We can do this, and we will."
With my heart and soul I wanted to believe. But when the 10-day-old baby began to cry when the two 3-year-olds crashed into the table, and the 2-year-old spilled his juice, I really wasn't sure.
I didn't brush my hair for two weeks because I couldn't find a brush. Somehow the cave woman look worked for me--I felt just as primitive and untamed on the inside as I looked on the outside.
Eventually we got the hang of things, unpacked, and established a routine. I began to enjoy the children: 3-year-old Pierre (the smartest, most artistic, and most athletic child I had ever met), his 2-year-old brother Jarvis (who was quiet, liked to suck on two fingers, and liked pushing his toy lawnmower), and the baby, DeAndre (who was delightful). Tyce loved having constant playmates and brothers.
But life was HARD--so much harder than I imagined it could be. There was so much I couldn't control, so much noise I couldn't quash, so many people I couldn't keep tabs on, so many meals and snacks to make, so meetings to attend, so much housework. Oh my word, the housework alone could have been a full-time job.
Bryce stayed at home with me, which was wonderful. He also did some of Casa's legal work, even going to Washington to lobby for changes to be made regarding adoption subsidy. He enjoyed doing adoptions and I think it was a real blessing for him to put his education to good use.
One morning, about a year into our service, we dropped the kids off with the Catholic nuns whose ministry was to support the Casa community. Sister Rita and her associates were always so wonderful and grandmotherly to all of the children, and so we knew they were in good hands.
Bryce and I talked to our fellow houseparents before our training meeting started.
"Hi, Mary. Looks like you have a new baby! Does that mean that little Miguel went with the Smiths?"
"Yes, they're a great family. I hope it works out. I just got the baby yesterday. Wanna see?" She bent her arm down a bit so I could peek at the little face inside the bundle of blankets. "Her name is Mary."
"Just like you!" I quipped.
She was a beautiful baby wrapped in pink. Curly hair, creamy skin, such a cute nose and her eyes . . .
Suddenly I felt a hot stab in my heart. Like I'd just remembered something important.
I drew in my breath.
And then the thought came to me: This is your daughter.
And I knew it was true.
I'd come to know that feeling--and I knew it was true.
I had no idea how this would come to pass, but I knew one thing was sure--the Lord did not forget His promises.
This was my daughter, whom I had prayed for all my life.